Dealing with tangles, plot and otherwise

I’ve ripped back the sleeve two more times since I last wrote. I think I finally got it. It’s taught me two things: first, never knit a striped sleeve set-in. From now on, striped sweaters will get raglan sleeves. That’s the kind where the sleeve seam angles upward from the armhole to the neck, instead of going straight up to the shoulder.

Knitting tangles

Photo by Kristen Stieffel

The second thing I learned is that although while in progress it looks like–and to a large degree is–a tangled mess of threads, when I’m done it will be a unified whole.

Kind of like my book.

I’m working on the sequel to Alara’s Call, and it’s in about the same state as this sweater. The body is finished. There are just some subplots to figure out and tie off. Just as there are multiple colors in my sweater, there are multiple storylines in my book, but in the end they all need to come together as a cohesive whole.

The difference, of course, is that I know what the sweater is supposed to look like when it’s finished. The novel…I have to knit it…I mean write it…to find out.


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

5 comments on “Dealing with tangles, plot and otherwise

  1. This is a great analogy! It makes me think of my mum who is a knitter and a writer as well. Hopefully she doesn’t get confused between the two!

  2. I find it so helpful to have analogies like this when I lose my way with my writing. I don’t knit, but I do draw.

    When frustrated with a work-in-progress, I stay calm and reassure myself by recalling how messy my first sketches are. Anybody else looking at them might think they are a lost cause. But somewhere in the scribbles are the true lines that I need. As I work on the picture, I darken the true lines and erase away the ones I don’t want. The true picture emerges from the cloud of scribbles.

    Even then, there is work to be done. The inking generally creates slightly different lines than the pencil sketch, shading adds depth and the coloring brings the whole thing to vibrant life.

    Isn’t it funny how encouraging it can be to think of writing in terms of some other creative endeavor? (One that doesn’t take as long to finish and which is easier to visualize!)

  3. […] I’ve written a couple of times before about the parallels between writing a novel and knitting a sweater. Sleeves, like scenes, sometimes need to be undone and redone before they turn out correctly. Plotlines, like yarn ends, need to be untangled and woven together. […]

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